If you already read the full post last week, just look at the pictures.
Our stray donkey, Flash, has a pretty good life here at our Barn House. No, he doesn't get to come inside! But he does have free roam of the pastures and woods on the property. He has plenty to eat and plenty of time to contemplate.
You could say he's a Contemplative Donkey.
Some of you might remember that I introduced you to our long-eared friend in an another post. His great big head and silly little legs make us smile almost as often as his outrageous braying. Sometimes we hear the distant echos of "Hee-Haw, Hee-Haw" from the back corner of the woods and we wonder WHAT ON EARTH must the neighbors think?
When you untie the rope and open the gate to get into the pasture, the first thing you'll notice is how tall the weeds are. I must apologize right off the bat. It has been a wet spring and they've gotten out of hand. Just watch out for the prickly ones.
The next thing that catches your attention is the curious criss-cross of donkey paths that lace the ground. Worn into the dark clay earth by funny-looking hooves, these paths are meandering testaments to a life that is defined by mindless repetition.
Need to get to the barn? Follow the path.
Feel like having a drink? Follow the path.
How about a walk in the woods? Follow the path.
Flash's paths don't take the shortest distance between point A and point B. They wander haphazardly hither and yon--probably because he doesn't look up when he walks. His head usually hangs down as he plods along, putting one foot in front of the other. Over time, his auto-treks have created the permanent grooves that WE now walk on when we need to get to the barn. Or fill his water trough. Or walk to the woods.
It struck me one day that Flash is stuck in a rut of his own making. There are parts of the pasture he never goes to because there are no paths that lead there. Oh, he has plenty of ruts to choose from, but they only go where he has gone before...at least a thousand times. Imagine what he is missing out on by not getting off his well-worn trails! Verdant meadows, wildflower patches and wooded delights could be just beyond his view but he will never know as he moseys along with his head lower than his knees.
I've thought about my own mindless ruts: the things I do without giving thought to how I'm doing them. True, there is comfort in familiarity, but there is also monotony. Boredom. Same old, same old. What would it hurt, every once in awhile to change things up and do things differently?
Like Flash's trails, I've noticed that my own trails create ruts for my family to follow. They shouldn't feel like they have to do things the way I ALWAYS do them. Must they wait until there are no clean clothes whatsoever before starting a load of laundry? Must they only shop at my grocery store or have Ranch dressing as their only condiment? I should encourage them to branch out by being a good example of willingness to expand my repertoire.
Today, I took an alternate route to my job site. Although I did it to avoid a traffic jam, I found myself looking at new vistas, and thinking new thoughts as I travelled through unfamiliar territory. Simply driving down a different road inspired me to try OTHER new things. It could be as small as brushing my teeth BEFORE washing my face, or serving an exotic dish to my family rather than relying on my old stand-by meals. Breaking out of my usual pattern got me moving into a whole new direction, and I got excited about the prospects that began to unfold!
Getting off the beaten path is good medicine for the soul. Whenever I find myself in need of creative inspiration, I'm going to remember to lift my head up and look around for some unexplored territory. I might sit in a different chair or order jalapenos on my hamburger. I'll do SOMETHING that reminds me that there is a whole other world beyond my old donkey trails.